2074 קָרַע (qāra‘) tear, tear in pieces.
2074a קֻרַע (qūra‘) rag (e.g. I Kgs 11:30; Prov 24:21).
qāra‘ has to do with rending cloth or a similar substance (except Jer 4:30; 22:14). It occurs sixty-three times. Distinguish it from bāqa‘ “split, cleave”—of making a channel through hard objects, gāzal “tear away from,” pānaq “break in two,” ṭārap “rend flesh,” ṣāraṭ “skin something,” shābar “break in pieces,” and cf. pāram “tear,” the synonym. Cf. Aramaic qrq (W. Donner and H. Rollig, KAI, II, p. 42), tear, slander (?) (Ps 35:15, “slander,” Rsv).
qāra‘ may be used with a literal meaning of cloth (Lev 13:56, I Sam 15:27), or figuratively of tearing a kingdom from a royal line (I Sam 15:28, et al.). Most frequently it refers to an act of heartfelt and grievous affliction (tearing one’s upper and under garment in front of the breast baring the sorrow of the heart; (cf. KD, Lev 10:6). This occurred at the first news of a death (Gen 37:29) or other tragedy (Num 14:6; Josh 7:6). “Rending” of one’s clothes could be accompanied by putting on sackcloth (saq, q.v.; Gen 37:34), putting dirt or ashes on the head (I Sam 4:12), removing the shoes (II Sam 15:30), and putting the hands on the head (II Sam 13:19). On two occasions when the king of Israel confessed his impotence to heal or to provide food by tearing his garments, Elisha proved that the Lord, whom the people had forsaken, was indeed the true king of Israel by healing Naaman and by giving food (II Kgs 5:7ff.; 6:30ff.). (Cf. R. deVaux, AI, p. 59). Israel was forbidden to imitate the Canaanite (cf. qāraḥ) mourning ritual of shaving the beard and head (Lev 21:5; Deut 14:1). So such practices when continued indicated the lack of instruction even among the godly in Jeremiah’s day (Jer 41:5). Ezra (9:5) did not shave, but plucked his hair indicating violent wrath and moral indignation (KD). God will cause his rebellious people to mourn—he will rend their chests (Hos 13:8). Also, he tells his people to repent and rend their hearts rather than their garments (Joel 2:13).
Bibliography: DeWard, Eileen F., “Mourning Customs in I, II Samuel,” JJS 23:1–27; 145–66.